Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My little peanut turns 2

At this time 2 years ago, I had a group of dr's surrounding me as I went into full panic mode. They could not continue forward with the surgery until I calmed down. After the talks from a special person and a butt load of anti-anxiety medication via IV, I remember my husband walking in with his medical attire on.. Moments later a beautiful angel was born. I didn't even see any imperfections.  All i could see was perfection.  When I heard her cry, the whole world seemed to sit still. God is great. What we once were told would never happen, did.  She made it.

I have received messages from other mother's of trisomy children (living or passed) that have followed Ava's blog.  They all ask the same questions, does it get easier? What is it like having a baby after losing a child? Do you try to forget everything and move forward? To answer these questions in short form, I don't know if it gets easier. I do have a new baby that helps to take my focus off of the loss of Ava Grace, but that doesn't mean her being gone is any easier. Mason is our rainbow baby.  The beauty after the storm. It doesn't mean the storm didn't happen. It just shows what awesomeness God has for us after we weather the rain. Yes, I felt incredibly guilty when we found out we were pregnant with Mason because I didn't want the pain in my heart for Ava to be replaced by happiness with Mason. You know what though, I must have a huge heart because I've managed to make room for both. Although, I have since let go of all of the "mad feelings" and have replaced them with all the small, happy memories with Ava Grace. I think Ava would be in love with Mason just as much as we are. When I allow myself to slow down and think of what she would look like or run across a 2 year old picture of myself, I wonder if she'd look like me. Especially since my other children look like their daddy. It's still hard  and yes Birthday's and angelversaries suck (for us, but not her).  I WILL NEVER TRY TO FORGET AVA or the events that took place up to or after her birth. I will move on because nothing I can do in this lifetime will ever bring her back. Her adventure molded me into who I am and my husband into who he is. Our family is forever changed, but our only option is to move forward. She moves with us too. 

This is our second year to celebrate the life of Ava Grace in a small party, just as a birthday party. No gifts are brought, but we celebrate with cake and send up love to the Heavens. It warms my heart to know my baby girl, even though born two years ago, is still remembered and her loved ones take time to celebrate her existance. I'm not sure how many more times we will do this, but it is part of my acceptance and a small reason to gather family and friends close, just as Ava got to enjoy for a short while.

I think today, I will open one of the bags that her hats that she wore are in, just so I can smell her again. Please keep our family in your prayers today as we turn a page in our book for another year of missing part of our heart. Today, as we celebrate her life being surrounded by family and friends, Ava still lives.  She lives within us, in the air, in the ladybugs we see, in our speech, in our memories and in our future.
We still have all the cards from Landon's class when she was in the hospital.  Washington School rocks! Can you find her?

She had her papaw's heart <3

Aunt Lili and cousin love

Great grand, priceless picture!

Lolli and AG

AG was amazed by this little beauty

Yes we can both smile for the camera

God only knows the blessing he made for us when he introduced Jennifer Rutledge and Mandie Vowell into our lives. You ladies captured moments that have turned into lasting memories. We love you from the bottom to the top of our hearts!

Meme kisses

Oh Aunt Landry, I won't hurt you. I love you.

Gigi heart to heart

I see 3 full hearts in this picture


God loves. I can see it in this picture. 


Happy beyond measures at the blessing before us

Shhhhhh. Birthday princess sleeping.

yep! She stole his heart.

Saying our night prayers.

The HOPE and the Fight live on in our hearts.

My sweet little man sharing with his sister. He didn't ever understand why she couldn't have any.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Upcoming Holidays 2013

As the holidays start to roll around, we all tend to get wrapped up in the gift giving and receiving. Most don't take the time to stop and give thanks for all that they have, like their family. I for one, have always been one of those people until last year. Last year the Lord threw a kink in my chain and made me stop and realize that my gift TRULY is that my loved ones are still in my presence. I have since then became so much more aware of my family's presence and well being. Ava Grace was no mistake. Her diagnosis was no happenstance. She was my family's miracle. Our family was blessed with the most precious gift of all............a angel. She brought our family closer than close. She made us appreciates the seconds in the day, not the hours. She made me appreciate a healthy pregnancy and child. She made me realize that in a blink of an eye, someone can be gone from your life forever and you shouldn't wait until the next time you see someone or hear from them to tell them the meaning in your life. MAKE THAT CALL, DRIVE THAT DRIVE. Heck, send that text. As we roll into our holiday season, my family will give back.

Last year The Oakes and Casavechia family merged together and started a new family tradition in memory of our own angels, Ava Grace Oakes and Hayden Brent Casavechia. We started the gift of giving. Not to each other, but to the children that reside at Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, MS. This is where our angels lived in and out of, until their last day on earth. Most people don't know about or even think about sending their children to Mississippi's only children's hospital. Everyone has heard of  Le Bonheur Children's Hospital or St. Jude, but have yet to hear about Batson Children's Hospital. That's where we are coming in. We want everyone to know of this magnificent hospital that we have right in our own back yard. We want people to know about the children that are treated there every day and have fantastic results. We want everyone to know that what a compassionate, kind, child-friendly environment this hospital has. This year we want to give back to the hospital family. We want each child that is in the hospital this year at Christmas, to receive a Christmas stocking full of goodies. We want them to feel like they are not missing out on the most important day of the year just because they are ill.

This year will be our second year as "one big family" that will give back to our second home. We plan on doing this with the help of our friends, family and community. On December 2-7th we will be accepting stocking drop off's at Oakes Toyota in Greenville, MS from 9am-4pm daily. With each stocking that is dropped off, we will enter your name in a drawing for wonderful prizes that will be given away throughout the final day (December 7th). Local businesses have come together and donated various products, certificates, and other items to be given away. This is a way for our community to unite and help bring in as many stockings for these earth angels as possible. Did you know that Batson gets approximately 9,000+ admissions a year? Did you know that their bright and vibrant Emergency Department sees over 100,000 children each year? These are your neighbors, your family or your friends. My oldest was also recently hospitalized for a illness that was treated as best as possible locally, but needed admission and more intense treatment than was available at home. We immediately drove to Jackson. I do not regret a moment of that drive. The emergency room welcomed us like we were a "no knock on the door friends". They were compassionate and understanding, not only to my son, but to a mother that had lost her little one a year earlier. They don't "treat" you here, they "help" you. There is a huge difference.

Can I hear the gears grinding in your head, trying to figure out what you can stuff your donated stockings with? I sure hope so. This year when we drop off the stockings at Batson, we pray that there are so many stockings that each of the children get one. Not just the children who are staying there short term, but the children that live there indefinitely, because upon being diagnosed their parents decided that they could not have/take care of a special needs child. There is a whole floor dedicated to the resident children who call this cheerful hospital HOME. There are babies in the NICU that will call Batson home. While Ava Grace was in NICU, there were 4 babies that called Batson home. It was bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that they would possibly never know home in my sense of the word (unless adopted). Sweet because the nurses fought over who got to take care of these children because they were step in "mom or dad". Could you imagine not having Christmas or worse, not knowing what Christmas is truly originated from? This year our family will also be including Christmas angels with their story book of how Jesus is the reason for Christmas. These will go into the stockings to be given to the children of Batson. We will also have a Christmas angel on site and a Santa to take pictures with. If you've never heard of the Christmas angel, it's like the elf on the shelf, but MORE meaningful and comes with a wonderful story in restoring the spirit of Christmas.

We will also have a fish fry from 11am until we run out. Last year this fish was so wonderful that we ran out quick. The plates will cost $10 per adult and $5 per child. All proceeds will go to Batson Children's Hospital. T-Chelle's Confections will be donating a cake also. If you have not had her cakes, you are definitely missing out. She has personally became my go to person for cakes.

In all this event announcing, I seemed to have left off the most important thing........LOVE. Having the support of everyone for this event, not only brings awareness to the hospital, gifts to children, but it brings LOVE and HOPE back into mine, Bryan, Lauren and Brent's hearts that our children are not forgotten. It shows us that there are people out there that remember our children's faces and their stories. Our stories have brought many people to the Lord. They have brought them closer to each other. To hear these words and see the support of a cause that is so dear to us, warms our holidays up dramatically. The Lord is the reason that we are still standing. He is the reason that we stand tall and proud and are able to show our appreciation to HIM for loaning us two of his angels. We know that they are still with us and nothing will ever change that. We were truly blessed to have such awesome children in our life to remind us of the importance of each other and the work that the Lord is capable of.  Thank you in advance for your support and understanding of our SECOND reason for the season.  We love you.

Ava  Grace Oakes

Hayden Brent Casavechia's blog:
“If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died–you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift.”
- Elizabeth Edwards
“Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey. And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again.”
― Helen Steiner Rice

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ava Grace's Re-Birthday (1st)

Well today was the day that I have been stressing and crying over for the past month. My sweet little angel girl turned 1, so in honor of my ladybug we decided to give her a re-birthday party. I have planned and planned what I would do to honor her. I literally burned pinterest up on my phone. Not too sure my husband doesn't think that me and pinterest are in a love affair. Looking for ideas for a angels birthday party is hectic. There are absolutely no ideas of others. We spent most of the morning cleaning the house and then out to the graveside. We cleaned there as well. Bryan cut the grass, while me, Landon, Trace and M.I.L. cleaned and organized. All of Ava's and Mary's angels were really dirty from the last storm and their bench was dirty too. Once everything was tidy, we all just stood around Ava's grave and a silent prayer was said in hopes that it would reach my baby girl. Many, many tears have fallen over the past few days. Emptiness had taken over my heart and turned my stomach inside out. I don't know how my feelings have been so repressed for so long, but the one thing I can tell you is that they have surfaced. I miss her. I miss her so much. God has blessed me with friends and family that accepts me for the pain in the butt that I am and still loves me through it. Lord only knows what has gone through my husband's head lately. I don't even want to know honestly. I would never wish the pain of loosing a child on my worst enemy. She is my daughter. My one true mini me. I may not have her by my side, but I have her in my heart.

We decided that it would do us all good to take a few steps away and go swimming with the boys. Trace mastered the waterslide all by himself today. Wow, huge step. We spent a couple of hours there before flying off to visit some of the sweetest people I have had the pleasure of encountering. If you have never been to The Sweetery in Cleveland, you MUST go there. Their cakes are fantastic and their personality surpass that. Did I mention that they made Ava's cake for her re-birthday party? Did I mention for free!? They are Godsent! Lauren is such an amazing person. They too had a loss of a young loved one and know the heartache. Lauren puts her heart and soul into making people smile through a tragedy, such as AG's cake today. This cake was amazing (you will see). This cake would have easily fed 50+ people and it was ate by 23 people with very little left. **So much for my diet today** :) I totally understand why transporting a cake to a location is so stressful. Running 30 minutes behind and having my 10 year old hold my cake and telling him a bazillion times to "hold on to the cake", "Don't let the cake fall", "Don't stick your fingers in the cake". My poor child was finally like "I've got this, geez". haha got to love him.

I did mention that I have great friends and husband right? Well bless their heart, by the time I got home, Bryan had finished the last few chores at the house that I was stressing over. Jason went and got the food and also set it up. Gretchen got the last minute things that I forgot. I am a very organized person and am a big  planner, so for me to forget stuff for this is abnormal. I believe religiously in a Excel spread sheet for organization purposes. The house looked good, the food smelled good and once I got the cake in and set up, it was precious!!!! All of AG's ladybug decorations were in place. Finally when everyone arrived and ate (way too much per them), it was time to paint AG's stone gifts. We told everyone that PRESENTS were not required,  only their PRESENCE was. I could list all my fantastic family and friends that attended, but they are in the pictures :). All of the kids and some adults painted their own stone to go in Ava's flower garden as presents to her. They did so great. I am so proud of them. Then we planted Ava's tree. Explination: Amy Guidry Oakes gave me a tree seed with a sweet little poem on it when we received the diagnosis of Ava. It is a "memory tree and as it grows, you think of me". We never planted it before because we knew that the house we used to live in was temporary and did not want to have to worry about transplanting. Well tonight was perfect. Bryan and I planted her seed,  just as her memory is planted in us and grows daily. We had a ton of lit Princess balloons that was hot pink and glowed in the dark. It was heartwarming for all of our friends and family to be present to release them with us. No sooner than we released them, the sky became brilliantly pink. I absolutely DO believe that this was a sign from AG. She was telling us thank you for the re-birthday party, balloons and still remembering her with love. She is my lit sky, my spunky peanut, my ladybug and above all my heart. Her tiny hands and miniature feet have left a huge print on my heart. I will not lie to you, I hurt. Bryan hurts. My children hurt. It is beyond any pain that I have ever encountered. Sometimes I feel like she is laying in my lap swaddled in her pink, satin blankie and looking at me like "mommy, I love you". She had these beautiful eyes that looked into my soul. She communicated with those eyes. Her older cousin saw an owl and said that "the owl reminds her of Ava Gayce". I never thought of it until it was pointed out, that the owl reminded her of AG because of her big eyes. So wise, so small. Ava Grace loved her family. That was present from day 1. We received many gifts today: a willow tree angel that had  a metal balloon that said "birthday girl", flowers, balloons, cake and a personalized photo album of Ava Grace. It is so beautiful and made me smile so big. It was perfect.

My little girl changed many lives. I received a text today that said that AG's story and our love for her and the Lord, led her to the Lord. I was stunned. I knew that people have said their life was forever changed by AG and that she is/was a positive influence in their outlook on life, but never that she led them to the Lord. That was it! That was the Lord's purpose of giving us a angel temporarily. If only one person was led to him, then that was all worth it to Him. I am not a "bible thumper" (as a friend of mine says), but I am a true believer that the Lord will bring all of His believers back together some day. Until that day comes, I will be holding on to the temporary physical presence of my little angel girl and all her physical features and love. She taught me a lot. I have spent more time and taken less for granted since she was here. Everyday with my loved ones are a miracle, not just a gift. "One has to experience the pain of death and loss, in  order to appreciate life and feel love within." My family and friends made tonight the happiest that I've been in a while. Thank you all. Everyone changing their profile pic to AG, made me cry tears of joy all day long. I seriously can not thank you enough. My BIGGEST fear is that Ava Grace will eventually be a memory that is shoved to the back of the brain and never thought of again. This will not happen in our house and I pray that it doesn't happen in yours. Thank you all for the support and love. You all made my day less painful.

In honor of Ava Grace, I am renaming my online store "The Spunky Peanut". :) She will then be worldwide. wink wink.
Little gifts for my sweetheart

Pink balloons fly high over both car lots in honor of my sweet girl's birthday.

The sod is not down yet, but her flowers were perfect for the occasion and the wreath matched her perfect.
A little swimming to lift my babies spirits

Such a perfect cake.  Sure my ladybug would be jealous of not being able to taste this cake:) 

Everyone blowing up balloons to prepare

What a beautiful sunset that came right after we let all the princess balloons go

Love my girls!!!!

The kids are painting their stones for Ava's flower garden.

Landon painted the ladybug. Every time he's sees a ladybug he screams for me and Bryan. He says its his sister. Of course trace looks at them like "that's not my sissy". 
Painting must be hard work :) 
Landon and Meg did fantastic work! The kids were so proud of their gifts of art to Ava Grace and so were we.

My re-birthday girl's birthday girl willowtree angel.
Our personalized photo album gift from my M.I.L. It's filled with memories of Ava Grace. Here are a few:
Ava Grace loved riding. The last one was her first trip home from the hospital. Just she and I. Nerves of steel must have kicked in because I don't remember looking at anything but her during that trip home. I remember walking into the house for the first time in two months with my little girl in her cars eat. I honestly don't think that anything will EVER feel better than that moment. It was like all my worries were gone. Everyone rushed to our side to see her, including her brothers who had only seen her under tons of blankets. It was a miracle in our home. She was the miracle. She still is the miracle in me. As I dry my eyes to see the screen, I want to thank everyone again for all of your love and support. It's amazing how the small community can make someone feel like a queen to the princess during the rough times. I love y'all! A special thanks to my closest friends, Stancey, Gretchen and Landry. 

Forgot this photo in original blog. This is of Bryan and I planting an "angel tree" that was given to us by Amy when we received Ava's diagnosis. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV) ❤😘